UK online gambling operators are required to verify the age and identity of their customers

The Gambling Commission has introduced new rules that strengthen the requirements for online gambling operators to verify the age and identity of their customers. The Commission states that in the UK the age and identify verification checks should be requested to customers before being able to place a bet or play at an online casino, including free play slot games. These changes took effect from 7th May 2019.

 

Who does this apply too?

The new requirements on age and identity verification apply to any operator that is offering remote gambling through their licence. This will include Casino, Bingo and Betting operators. A small number of lottery operators that provide online scratch card or instant win games will also be affected.

Previously online gambling operators were allowed to take up to 72 hours to carry out age verification checks. Unverified users could then gamble during this time period but could not withdraw any winnings until after their age was verified. The new rules will ensure that operators verify customers ages and identities faster, preventing underage gambling and protecting vulnerable players.

 

How does it work?

Operators must verify the age of the player before allowing access to their site. Unverified users won’t be able to deposit any funds into their account, use any free-to-play games, or receive free bets or bonuses upon registering. These changes mean that a reduction in the time to prove a customers identity is required in order to maintain a frictionless onboarding journey, giving customers the fastest possible access to paid services.

The new legislation also requires licensed operators who offer online gambling channels to:

  • Verify, as a minimum, the name, address and date of birth of a customer before allowing them to gamble or deposit funds.
  • Ask for any additional verification information promptly.
  • Inform customers, before they can deposit funds, of:
    • The types of identity documents or other information that might be required.
    • The circumstances in which the information might be required.
    • How it should be supplied to the licensee.
  • Take reasonable steps to ensure that information on their customer’s identities remains accurate.

After the UK Government asked porn publishers to verify the age of their end users, UK institution the Gambling Commission decided to update the age verification requirements in a move aimed at addressing the risk of children gambling, further helping operators “better prevent harm or detect criminal activity” and identifying ‘self-excluded’ customers who are trying to gamble. 

See the Gambling Commission’s report here.

UK Government to delay the introduction of the age verification law

The UK Government’s mandatory age verification scheme for accessing online pornographic content, originally set for launch 15 July, has been delayed.

Giving a statement in the House of Commons, digital minister Jeremy Wright explained that the government had failed to notify the European Commission of the age verification standards that it expects companies to meet. Not having done so means it can’t legally introduce the policy at this stage according to EU Law.

Wright said, “It has come to my attention in recent days that an implementation process was not undertaken for an element of this policy and I regret to say this will delay the commencement date, in the region of six months”.

Despite the delay, Wright said the UK Government was committed to the policy, “This is not a change of policy or a lessening of this government’s determination for these changes to come about. In the mean time there is nothing to stop responsible providers of online pornography from implementing age verification mechanisms on a voluntary basis and I hope and expect that many will do so.”

The minister also commented on the technical challenge of accurate online age verification that had been raised during the consultation on the law’s white paper. Wright said he has commissioned new guidance that will be published in the autumn regarding the use of technology to ensure children are protected from inappropriate content online.

In conclusion, Wright added, “Age verification for online pornography needs to happen, and I believe it is the clear will of the house and those we represent that it should, and in the clear interests of our children that it must.”

Despite the delay AgeGO recommends that online adult content websites should still contact the company with any questions they might have about age verification and how AgeGO can help them get prepared for the future introduction of the mandatory UK law.

More countries plan age verification to access adult sites

The UK’s age verification law will come into force on July 15th of this year. Many countries are following closely to see how successful this initiative will play out in the UK. Here’s an overview of which countries are thinking about or planning to introduce age verification in the future.

Spain

The limitation of online pornographic content online was included in the electoral programme of the newly elected Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez (Social Democrats). The goal of the new government is to implement a new strict age verification system for adult websites.

According to new research carried out by the Balearic Islands University polling 2,500 people aged between 16-29 showed that some children start to consume pornography at 8 with the average age for boys starting to consume pornography is 14 and 16 for girls. Mobile phones are the main point of access for sexual content, with 50% of young people admitting it is the device they most use to watch porn. Although “many have come across pornography unintentionally”, others start searching for images out of curiosity. The anonymity of consumers, the free access to unlimited content, the high quality of the video content, and the wide range of sexual practices (including abuses and illegal practices) portrayed in such websites are some of the factors that worry specialists most.

South Africa

Recently a discussion paper was published by the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) which proposed a revision of existing online legislation to limit access to porn, including a default block on internet devices requiring age verification to bypass. According to its introduction, the 360-something-page document aims to identify gaps in the manner in which the law currently regulates and protects children from being exposed to pornography or from being used to create child sexual abuse material, and to serve as a basis for in-depth deliberation on the law reform needed to protect children and to test public opinion on the solutions identified by the Commission.

Most significantly (and, probably, most controversially), the discussion paper recommends that all devices (new and second hand) be issued with or returned to a default setting that blocks inappropriate content, with an opt-in possibility depending on proof of age of the buyer/user as being 18 and older.

Ireland

This year the Department of Communications launched a public consultation on a new law to regulate harmful content online. The results are currently being examined in preparation for the development of legislation with age verification being considered in the context of the forthcoming legislation.

Poland

MPs for the country’s Law and Justice party have put forward radical proposals to curtail access to porn websites. Research from the Integrated Prevention Institute shows that in Poland, 60 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls are first exposed to porn at the age of 11.

Other countries also investigating age verification laws are Sweden and France. AgeGO will keep you updated about any further developments.

 

AgeGO interviewed by Global Dating Insights

AgeGO’s product manager Jorge Bravo explains how the adult dating industry will need to implement age verification in the UK and how the AgeGO solution will work. Read the full interview here.

AgeGO is the go to solution for the UK’s age verification law

24 April 2019. The UK Government has announced that its age verification law for adult content websites will be enforced on the 15th of July. This means that all adult websites targeting UK traffic will have to ask users to prove that they are over 18 years old in order to view the content.

According to the UK Government’s official communication, porn sites must check the age of users or risk facing sanctions. This new approach is the first of its kind in the world, and puts in place the same protections that exist offline. Stricter measures will be put in place to protect user’s data and privacy. The UK will become the first country in the world to bring in this type of age-verification for online pornography.

Online businesses will need to implement age verification for their websites if they fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • Free adult content website e.g. tube site
  • Membership paysite for adult content
  • VoD streaming of adult video content
  • Adult anime (cartoon) content
  • Retailing +18 products e.g. adult DVDs, adult magazines, adult books, etc
  • Advertiser/affiliate landing page to sell or describe adult products
  • Blog featuring adult content, adult retail products
  • Adult dating/hookup website
  • Livecam website that includes nude, semi-nude models and/or sexual acts
  • Escort services website
  • Any other website displaying adult content

Websites that fail to implement age-verification technology face having payment services withdrawn or being completely blocked for UK users.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the new laws. They have confirmed that they will begin enforcement on 15 July, following an implementation period to allow websites time to comply with the new standards.

Regarding user privacy, age-verification solutions should only be concerned with verifying age, not identity. In addition, providers should comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards.

AgeGO is the perfect age verification solution for adult online businesses. AgeGO offers several methods of verification including:

  • Verification by scanning of photo identification of a current Passport or current driving licence
  • Verification with a UK mobile phone and its 3G carrier or via an SMS text
  • Verification with credit card details
  • And other methods that will be detailed in the coming weeks

Privacy is of paramount importance to AgeGO and no personal data is stored of users that it verifies.

AgeGO is quick and easy to implement because it is a self-service platform. Business owners can sign up and upload their website’s logo and instantly create branded AgeGO widget tags. The tags are fully responsive and work across all devices (desktop, mobile and tablet). Integration is as simple as adding a short JavaScript code to the business owner’s website.

Once implemented, when a UK user visits the website, the AgeGO age verification widget will appear on the home page, blurring out the home page’s content. The user then selects one of the verification methods and follows a few on screen prompted steps to complete the verification process. If the verification is successful the user gets instant access to the full content on the website.

Businesses also get additional benefits from using AgeGO including full access to advanced statistics in their dashboard for full control over the age verification flow to improve their user pass rate and control costs.

Businesses can find out more about how AgeGO can ensure that they don’t lose UK traffic by visiting the business section of AgeGO’s website.

ENDS

For further press information contact

press@agego.com

83% of UK parents back Age Verification

According to a survey from Internet Matters, more than 8 out of 10 parents (83%) feel that commercial porn sites should demand users to verify their age before they’re able to access content.

The research also found that 76% of UK parents think there should be greater restrictions online to stop kids seeing adult content, and 69% of parents with children aged four to sixteen think that the government’s new ID restrictions will make a difference.

Internet Matters is a not-for-profit organisation funded by Google, Facebook, the BBC and Sky and the organisation has created a comprehensive online pornography hub of advice for parents who want to manage what their children can see online along with age-specific tips on how to deal with conversations about pornography.

All eyes are on the UK to see how the compulsory online age verification initiative plays out when it comes into law. Several European countries, including France, Sweden and Poland, are contemplating similar initiatives to the UKs to protect children from hardcore pornography. A US-based trade association for the pornography industry the Free Speech Coalition, has acknowledged that “Britain’s efforts are a model for those to come”.

AgeGO offers age verification for online dating websites

You might think that the UK’s Digital Economy Act only applies to pornography websites. But this also extends to any commercial digital platform that contains +18 content targeting the UK.

Let’s look at one online business area and that is Dating. According to Nomura Instinet this market is estimated to be worth $12 billion with 310 million people actively using at least one dating platform by 2020. Revenues are driven by subscription models and subscription or freemium models supported by digital advertising.

As technology has evolved, so have the dating platforms, using ever more sophisticated algorithms to help people match with potential partners and GEO location to find partners nearby. The market is already crowded with user growth seen in niche dating products.

The dating market can be broken down into 3 categories:

Dating Apps
These are native applications and are subject to Google and Apple rules which state no naked content can be shown in user profiles, therefore apps are not subject to having age verification technology, a simple date of birth verification is all that is required without requiring any form of proven age identification.

Romance dating websites
Considered as dating platforms that help users find true love, these websites do not allow users to show nude content in their profiles. Many dating websites also have iOS and Android apps giving users two ways to access the platform and again a simple date of birth verification is all that is required.

Adult dating websites
Considered as casual dating websites for sexual encounters. These websites do contain naked images and X rated profile texts and therefore contain +18 content and will be subject to age verification as demanded by the UK’s Digital Economy Act. Advertisers and affiliates promoting offers to these websites will also have to ensure that their offer landing pages incorporate age verification technology.

The solution
If you run an adult dating website with UK users or you are an advertiser/affiliate targeting UK users to purchase adult dating products, AgeGO is the age verification solution for you. For users, some verification services charge a fee, AgeGO is free, quick and totally anonymous. For businesses AgeGO is simple to implement on our self service platform, businesses can brand the age verification widget to personalise and we take care of the whole verification process for you, so you can get on with running your business. Visit our Business section for more information.